OUR STORY & PHILOSOPHY
Sangraha is a brainchild of Dr Jaspal Kalra, that started as a project during his doctoral research. ‘Sangraha’ in hindi means for group of people and also commitment to sustaining heritage (Sangrahalya or museum) The word in itself expresses the vision behind it which was co-working with artisans in collaboration and reviving heritage.
About the historicity of the brand and organisation: born in Lucknow, a city of craft, culture and history, Dr Kalra started appreciating the nuances of cultural narratives wrapped in crafts. The subtleness of etiquettes is expressed in the whitework of Chikankari drew him close to embroidery. Chikankari, an age-old embroidery done in Lucknow city of northern India. It has been known since long for its intricacy, transparency and variety of stitches which also includes jail (network). It’s the sheer finesse of stitches and transparency they create that makes it exclusive that lack of color becomes its identity and essence. The association that started more than two decades ago was to become a companion for life.
His design language became synonymous with handcrafted techniques and stories associated with it. Chikankari stayed with him even in my professional qualifications of Masters and Doctorate. Doctoral research established close connection with the social aspects of Chikankari. Lucknow presently has more than 0.2 million artisans associated with this craft. The women artisans involved in Chikankari work from home and live a financially marginalised, socially excluded life in deprived conditions. They have inadequate access to health and other services, are isolated in value chain, face destruction of social capital, alienation and powerlessness. The high skilled artisans fail to get dignified earning through their skill and become middlemen for better earning.
During the doctoral research between 2014 to 2017 worked towards developing a service prototype (design education programme) and tested it in two trials. The insights in the design empowerment of artisans was that role of the designer should not be as a leader, but as a provocator, facilitator and leveller in craft projects. The true empowerment of artisan is about regaining confidence in their effectiveness, creativity and outstanding skills by getting a chance to receive appreciation from buyers and designers. The future of craft is innovating while valuing its traditional techniques and subjective aspects of composition not just at product level but at the level of artisans.
It was with this group of women that Sangraha started and trademark was registered as Sangraha Karigar Atelier under Enduring Handcrafts Private Limited. Enduring to value the endurance in embroidery created by human hands. Its an association of mind body and soul. The organisation is for profit legally but since inception has been trying to establish norm for responsible entrepreneurship. Sangraha doesn’t call itself fair trade rather responsible and honest towards artisans, at it goes beyond the fair trade to build relations. Relations to share experiences and grounded in empathy.
Our co-working artisans are our core team and strength that is committed to excellence, innovation and responsibility through ethical trade. The share of wages surpasses the ones existing in market and each team member has health protection cover, can afford education of wards to name a few benefits.
All this has been possible through the patrons who have appreciated the craft since our first exhibition in Pune in 2014, to frequent ones at Dastkar or buyers at stores: Jaipur Modern, Collage, Artisans and more. With new paths to tread team has expanded and also experts have joined as advisors in mission.
Founded by craft designer Dr. Kalra and supported by fashion technologist Indu Kalra, the efforts are now mentored by social-cohesion trainer Susan Kolady and Samir Kher.
The meaning of responsibility was discovered in year 2020, when Chikankari and Ari artisans barely earn less than a dollar in a day were out of work and earning. The power of team was seen in such tough times. Some artisans from our team, gave up their resources to support others. Embroidered masks were created to give means to those who were out of resources.
It later evolved into permanent social initiative with a range of products under Sangraha: Sacha Sauda. It is based on Sacha Sauda principle of Sikh preacher Guru Nanak Dev, whereby accumulation of skills, knowledge, blessings through community service is considered ‘Ethical Trade’.
To be Recognised Globally as being Committed to and making Significant Contributions towards supporting Communities to Discover Value in Hand Crafted Products. As a result, having Market Capitalisation Comparable to Admiration of its Values.
Inspiration and Excellence with Innovation, and Reliability as an Experience of Luxury for Global Communities through Values Manifested in every Product and Service at Sustainable Prices. Creating Responsible Values steeped in Tradition, Ethics, Connectedness, and Expertise for all the Stakeholders.
An experience called Sangrahaness
At the heart of Sangrahaness, are seven pillars—Truthfulness, Pioneering Innovation, Excellence, Cultural Responsibility, Social Cohesion, Vernacular Sincerity and Sensorial Experience that holds this unique concept of handcrafting higher than all others.
At Sangraha, Truthfulness is at the root of everything. Each product, service and process have originality, honesty, and straightforwardness. This keeps the value of Indianness, and all our processes grounded in sustainable practices that value expertise and perfection. Everything we do is with collective integrity and transparency.
Engendered out of an ambition to create a service that will change outlook towards artisans of Avadh, and eventually the lead to excellence in craft. Sangraha, ever since its inception has been a change bearer. From involving artisans in the design process, reviving extinct stitches, sustaining wages that artisans have never been offered in this region, creating parameters of excellence in embroidery. Sangraha’s vision is to be the best in its class.
Sangraha will continue to be agile and take on challenges, using Human Centered Design to have insights about customers and communities to develop innovative solutions.
Sangraha sincerely believes in ethical exchange with the local craft, culture, its people, and its communities. The essence of working at Sangraha lies in the art, craft, stories, and folklore of Lucknow. At Sangraha, we follow a practice that cares for its people by providing employment, financial independence, opportunity for training and cultural travel experiences, medical cover, education for wards and involvement in planning their future.
At Sangraha, we are passionate about achieving the highest standards of perfection in craft and associated processes, always promoting meritocracy.
Sangraha invests in building a community of people and partners, enabling continuous exchange, learning, and building caring and collaborative relationships based on trust and mutual respect.
Sangraha builds on tradition and vernacular systems with commitment to environmental and social principles in our business, ensuring that all that we do, and use is sustained to bear rewards for many more.
Sangraha proudly works towards articulating the narratives of crafts, their workmanship and heritage by reinterpreting them innovatively and ethically. Our premise is that "hands are not isolated from heart and soul in a craft". Every hand and mind that touches the product in making becomes a protagonist in the story. At Sangraha we curate experiences through music, gifts, greetings, knowledge sharing about the local heritage.
Our responsibility towards artisans continues and excellence and innovation are our means to let people join the experience as customers and possessors of these narratives. Being for profit has made sure we create change through our own efforts and trade. Profit has a meaning in community.
The community of collaborators is growing as the delight of owing craft products that mimic skills in antiquity is spreading with our mission. The thread that travels through the fabric to embroiderer is the shared love of founders and artisans who collectively give the experience of innovation & excellence.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
AN ARTISAN DESIGNER CO-BRAND BY ENDURING HANDCRAFTS PVT LTD
Sangraha: Sacha Sauda
Sangraha: Karigar Atelier